Sound — 7
Berkeley, California's The Morning Benders sound as if they channeled the ancestors of their college town on their latest release Talking Through Tin Cans, produced by Patrick Brown and the band's lead singer/guitarist/keyboardist Chris Chu who additionally wrote all of the songs. The deep country-folk tones of the band's guitar inflections draw out a '60s pop trajectory with psychedelic loops that recall of The Yardbirds backed by parcels of idiosyncratic rock and folksy effigies reminiscent of Camera Obscura. The songs make you feel like you are listening to a band while sitting in a drum circle hanging out in a public courtyard. There is an openness about The Morning Benders music that makes the album inviting for all. The steep lunges in the rhythmic grooves of Waiting For A War and Patient Patient are frocked in retro rock intonations while the euphoric pop sensibilities of Loose Change have a country-folk rattling tied to echoey bongo-fleshed drumbeats. The folk-pop ballad Heavy Heart beats to a retro rock timpani but in a different way, more with the bebop harmonies of The Hollies. The Morning Benders have a folk-rock gait which is so entrenched in the past that you feel like you are listening to an Oldies radio station most of the time, especially when it comes to Damnit Anna, Boarded Doors, and I Was Wrong, which all have a vivid vintage pop sound. The band displays excellent vibrating guitar lines in Wasted Time and then again in Chasing A Ghost, which even someone who has never been enamored of the guitar would be entranced by it's laser-like lancing, and spurred to feel a deep appreciation for the workmanship. The Morning Benders really hit a transcendental-pop frequency in their songs that goes beyond people's expectations of sonic effigies to celebrate this sector of pop. Their music has a meditative glaze while drawing out folk-rock tinged idiosyncrasies that are artistically versed and aurally inviting.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics have a normalcy about them that complements the band's Oldies folk-rock angles. The song Crosseyed tells, I tried to cross a bridge today/ I tell you man there ain't no way to change/ So I paid someone to lead me/ Mapped it out from me to you/ In a way, it's cruelSomewhere inside me there is a jealous man/ I want it out of my head. The lyrics are modern day impressions about what exists beneath the surface of one's actions, making impressions that psycho-analyze oneself with phrases like I was wrong when I said you were rightI've got no heart left to ache, from the track I Was Wrong, and I've grown wings but I can't bring myself to fly away, from Boarded Doors. The lyrics look inside oneself to find the answers to why situations end in disappointment. It's a recurring theme that pops up in many of the songs on the album.
Overall Impression — 7
It helps to like Oldies rock when listening to The Morning Benders. Band members Chris Chu (lead singer, guitars, organs, pianos), Joe Ferrell (guitars, pianos, organs), Julian Harmon (drums, percussion), and David Perales (bass) have a visceral connection to modern day bands like Oh No! Oh My! and The 1900s whose folk-rock binges have a splash of art-pop and '60s psychedelic memorabilia. The band's crossfires of country, folk and '60s pop have a genuine flint that pulls the past into contemporary times. Their album forges a path for transcendental-pop to be revived, a genre which has it's roots locked in the past, but college towns everywhere are making effigies to it's meditative, trance-like shafts as if it was the next holy ground to take a pilgrimage to, and take a piece of it back home with you.